Simply Resourceful

Simple ways to be more conscious about how we use our resources.

When Does Maple Sap Run?

Maple sap runs when the temperatures fluctuate from the teens and low 20's followed by a quick rise in temperatures to the 40's and above.  Using the graph above you can quickly see when the sap will flow.  My husband created this forecasted temperature and precipitation graph which has been an invaluable tool for maple syrup season and gardening.

According to the graph you can quickly see when it will precipitate (green colors) and when to cover the garden plants (the red line is temperature and the blue dotted line is 32°F -- freezing).  The best thing is, you can get this for any location in the USA. Simply go to this website: and click your location on the map and this graph will appear. This website works best on a desktop computer or tablet, not a phone.

We hope you find this tool useful for your syrup and garden planning activities!!

Our first maple syrup boil this year, February 8, 2015.

Here is another maple sap run later in the season that shows temps reaching the 50's and then plummeting down to the teens.  

When should I start my seedlings indoors? Try the Seed Start Planning Tool

My husband is always itching to get started planting seeds and usually ends up planting them too early. He got tired of his seedlings becoming spindly while waiting for warmer weather to arrive, so he developed a solution. He made a Seed Start Planning Tool. :-)

You can use it here:

Here's our last frost date of May 1st:

Handmade Fabric Valentines

Valentine's Day is one of my favorite holidays because it taps into that giddiness I felt as a young girl making my valentine box at school and looking at each and every valentine I received over and over.  It is a special day to tell those you love that you really care about them.  This year during my mom's visit over the Christmas holiday, we made heart pillows using scrap fabric, felted wool, buttons, and antique lace.  These pillows were really easy to make and most didn't even require a sewing machine.  My mom designs and sells quilt patterns and other fun things on her website and has a pattern for these delightful little pillows called "Tokens of Affection."

Every heart pillow is unique with it's fabric combinations and details on the front.

This was my favorite pillow all stitched by hand using felted wool for the red heart, three small white buttons, and a running stitch along the edge.  Simple and elegant.

All of the hearts have different thicknesses using combinations of fiberfill and quilt batting.  

There are so many fun combinations that we just couldn't stop!  All together we made 32 heart pillows.

I really like the hearts with pockets that can hold a valentine or love note!

In addition to the heart pillows, we made vintage valentines printed onto aged scrapbook paper found at an antique store. Some ribbon was also used to give it that old-fashioned look.

Making the heart pillows and paper valentines was so much fun that we couldn't resist selling them at The Wild Ramp!

How to Prevent Peach Borers

On a warm January day, Jon, Paul, and I took a walk around the property and discovered a pool of  jelly-like substance around the base of the peach trees.  I did a bit of research and there seems to be a lot of reasons for the sap leakage.  Some say borers are the main culprit whereas others suggest a bacterial or fungal infection.  One peach grower on a forum says this can happen to young trees when sap pressures are high in early spring and there is a weak graft that has not closed completely,  
After clearing away the sap and a little investigating, we did see holes that would indicate borers. These borers feed on the cambium layer of the tree between the bark and sapwood.  They typically attack the tree between 3 inches below ground to 10 inches above ground. 

This is our first time raising peach trees and we garden using only organic methods.  Besides sticking the end of a paperclip into the borer hole to kill the feeding larvae, organic growers suggest using Tanglefoot, a sticky paste made from natural gum resins, vegetable oil, and wax.  You first wrap the first 12 inches of the tree trunk and a few inches below the soil with strips of stretchy material (e.g. t-shirt) and then apply Tanglefoot directly to the t-shirt.  Tanglefoot traps insects because it is so sticky, thereby preventing the moths from laying eggs on the trunks of the tree.  This is more of a preventative approach and a fine example of why you need to do your research and be proactive rather than reactive.  After three years of watering, weeding, and pruning, the trees may be too weak to survive.  Now that the borers have established themselves, it will be nearly impossible to keep them under control because the borers laid their eggs under the bark last summer/fall.

About this blog

A weekly update on our adventures of trying to be more self-sufficient by using resources wisely. We explore a variety of topics that most broadly fit in the "Homesteading" category, i.e. beekeeping, organic gardening, edible landscaping/fruit forest, food preservation/canning, woodworking, soap-making, and environmental stewardship.

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